Thursday 29th August – 2nd September 2013
At the ripe old age of just 6 years old, Outlook has fully cemented itself as the crème de la Croatian Crème of bass music festivals. Held in a 150 year old fort in Pula, Croatia this weird and wonderful landscape played host to over 400 acts in the dungeon, ballroom and boats of this strange yet wonderful location.
Being an Outlook virgin I must say I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Having heard many a horror story (intertwined with the odd love story) of people falling into moats and finding trolls in the dungeons, I was going in blind. With a line-up containing heavy hitters such as Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Capleton, The Pharcyde and David Rodigan. Mixed in with the grittier likes of Dub Phizix, Goldie, Kode 9 and Chimpo there was a real spectrum to choose from.
The festival has three main divisions, the beach parties starting a day before the festival and carrying on through to the day after close, the boat parties and the main fort itself consisting of 10 venues.
The beach parties kept the revelers content during the day pathing the way nicely into the sonic feast of the fort at night. On Wednesday 28th August the festival kicked off with a huge opening ceremony in the Amphitheatre with Earl Gateshead, J Rocc, Grand Master Flash & T.O.W. I however found myself at the opening beach party bringing in the party vibes with Dub Smugglers Soundsystem.
All revved up & ready to go, Thursday kicked off with Iration Steppas bringing in the Irie sounds paving the way for Capleton. Although morally hesitant about my decision to go, given his gratuitous homophobic lyrics and constant disregard for the Reggae Compassionate Act, I could not pass up the opportunity, as it is highly unlikely that I will ever get another chance to see such a renowned dancehall artist without going to Jamaica. As a once in a lifetime opportunity it did not disappoint, at one point I was convinced that if he jumped any harder he would either bring the fort down, or any higher and reach terminal velocity and start orbiting the earth. His reggae electricity powered the Harbour up, with the crowd not appearing to run out of steam anytime soon.
I then quick footed it over to the Fort Arena 1 to catch Gorgon Sound (aka producers Kahn & Neek) representing the Bristol massive with a stonking set. These boys deserve an honorable mention, as well as a dubplate medal & a bottle of Patron, for lugging all that vinyl around, along with providing such sweet vibes. The next 2 hours involved yo-yoing between The Harbour stage for Rodigan and The Fort Arena 1 (due to the late running of the set) before finally settling back down at The Harbour for Dub Phizix. Saying that, ‘settling back down’ is the biggest understatement ever. Bringing along MCs Strategy and Skittles, Dub Phizixs set was anything but relaxed. It was as if the whole of Manchester had descended on Croatia to bring easily the best atmosphere of the whole festival to this one set. Smashing up the stage with the anthemic ‘Marka’ the hard drum n bass sound descended in all its gloomy glory to a rampant crowd. Very much a hard act to follow, Artwork made a gallant effort to a frenzied crowd.
Day 2 rolled around and with the bass still ringing in my ears (shout outs to the tinnitus crew) it was time again to battle the fort. Kicking off with a passing visit to the much-hyped Elephino playing Outside The Fort hosted by Deviation (Benji B’s label) followed by In New Dj’s latest addition Moxie. Although not as lively as the other stages seemed to be, the selection was perfect as the sun was setting and the party picking up. Over at the Harbor in the wait for Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) I caught some of Taskforce’s set. The less said about them the better.
I think I was done after their rant about how women need more respect but ‘some of them are still whores’…
Mos Def played a beautiful set, but considering how highly anticipated his set was I was a little underwhelmed. Following Yasiin Bey I hot stepped over to see Swindle in all his ‘Long Live The Jazz’ glory before squeezing my way in to the 75 capacity Noah’s Ballroom hidden deep in the fort. Madam X kept the intimate crowd on their toes by dropping a good mix of grime, 90s dance and the odd house tune moving away from the heavy bass nature of the other arenas. Jackmaster headlined The Harbour’s takeover by Numbers to round off the 2nd day of partying. Playing a tight eclectic set with tunes from Drake and classics from Numbers themselves. The whole night came together nicely especially with the hosting talents of Chunky bouncing off the crowd and Jackmaster himself.
Come Saturday it was time for me to encounter my first (and last) boat party. Butterz on deck duty, the boat boasted a line up of the whole family including Shiftee, Royal-T, Swindle, Champion & the head honchos Elijah & Skilliam. Aside from it being a genuinely Terror-fying experience, the boat went off. The only way to describe it was as madness. With a sneaky few special edits in there, twinned with House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around ’(never to be played on an over capacity boat at night ever again) the atmosphere was amazing and set everyone up nicely for each artists set later on in the weekend.
Docking in time to catch The Pharcyde play out classics such as ‘Passin’ Me By’ and ‘Runnin’ the evening was off to a good start. The Pharcyde command such a high level of respect for representing Hip Hop for over 20 years, they well and truly showed all the new Hip-hop artists at the festival what to aim for. However, following their set trying to get in to see the likes of Kahn, Terror Danjah and Digital Mystikz vs. Loefah was mythical. For the first time (and only) time of the festival it was impossible to get in anywhere. With the layout of the festival being the way that it is, past a certain point you have to queue to get into the smaller venues such as The Moat. I managed to fight my way into The Moat in time to see Scratcha DVA play a cracking closing set of the night, or start of the next.
Outlook had no intention of fading away as it came to a close. The last day saw Outside The Fort being taken over by Swamp 81. The label had made itself very prominent throughout the weekend with each act playing 2 or 3 sets on boats or stages with Chunky MC’ing to within an inch of his life. With Chunky opening the stage with his wonderful lucky dip of vinyl marvels, he then returned to his place in front of the decks hosting alongside Johnny Banger for Mickey Pearce. Finding it hard to tear myself away from the Swamp stage I managed to catch Broke N English alongside Skittles smash up the SBTV arena bringing through another healthy dose of Manchester MCs who seemed to be dominating the festival. After this, the rest of the night was spent bouncing between both the Swamp 81 and Rinse FM stages to witness the best of both worlds with the likes of Loefah, Boddika, Newham Generals, Roska, Zed Bias, Paleman, Royal T, Klose One, Elijah & Skilliam. All of whom played strong sets with personal highlights being Paleman dropping his and Chunky’s new collab ‘Came To Cut Shapes’ . As well as over at the Rinse stage Royal-T’s exclusive Dizzee Rascal - ’I Luv U remix‘ & ‘I Know You Want Me‘ not forgetting Swindles soon to be featured on Grand Theft Auto’s OST ‘Forest Funk’ and ’Do The Jazz‘ with all its clap along brilliance.
Overall I highly recommend this festival to anyone who wants to venture away from the safe womb of the british festival. But beware, the bass comes thick & fast ,so if you’re not it in for the right reasons then just wait for Dimensions Festival or stick to Bestival to round off your summer!